Did he lose his life because of the sensitive fraud investigation he was involved in? Forensic auditor Lawrence Moepi, who was gunned down in the parking lot of his Houghton firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo, although nothing was stolen from him or his car, was an “inspirational leader” and an upright, respectable man, according to his colleagues.
At the time of his death, he was investigating the arms deal as well as alleged corruption in the sale of Cosatu’s old Braamfontein head office, which changed hands for half of its market value. For his commitment to exposing dodgy dealings and for putting his life on the line, Lawrence Moepi is our hero for this week.
The trade union and many others have condemned the killing. Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the labour organisation was “deeply disturbed” by 41-year-old Moepi’s murder, while its spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement that “such acts threaten to undermine the basis of our democracy”.
Craven added that auditors play a critical role in the fight against corruption and crime, and must be able to do their work without putting their lives at risk. He said that Moepi’s murder was a “targeted hit”, but the police have not confirmed this claim.
In May 2013 Cosatu appointed SizweNtsalubaGobodo to investigate the sale and purchase of its old and new headquarters. The investigation included allegations of financial misconduct against Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, who oversaw the transactions. Moepi was one of a team of auditors engaged in the probe and according to Dlamini, was due to submit his final report on the allegations in November.
The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa said, in a statement, that it condemns “such cowardly acts where members of our profession are threatened and ultimately killed for just performing their job. The profession has lost a prominent, well-respected leader within the forensic audit space”.
Before joining SizweNtsalubaGobodo Moepi was the forensic service director for PwC, and testified in high-profile cases such as the fraud trial of Geoffrey Ledwaba, the former head of the disbanded Directorate of Special Operations, also known as the Scorpions. During this time he worked closely with the SAPS’ commercial crime unit and with the Scorpions.
Public protector Thuli Madonsela also revealed that Moepi was handling some investigations for her office, as an external auditor. One of these cases involved Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Pansy Tlakula, who was recently embroiled in accusations of irregularities in the multimillion-rand leasing of the organisation’s head office in Pretoria.